Family routines can help things become more organized, get more accomplished and keep things from becoming chaotic. Children as well as adults can benefit from routines at home. Children need the predictability and regularity that routines can bring. However, some need more or less routine structure than others.
Routines that are appropriate to the children’s developmental stages can promote self-confidence, independence and feelings of empowerment.
Consistency is key to making a successful routine work. For younger children, it may be helpful to create a visual chart that has photos of the steps involved in completing the routine. Be sure to keep the steps simple and try not to list too many. Stick to the routine as much as possible, but remember to be flexible when unexpected changes to your schedule come up.
Maybe it’s a morning routine that your family is in need of to get each day started on the right foot. Remember, keep it simple. First a positive wake-up, not everyone is a morning person, so make sure to leave enough time for each child to wake up as they need to. Rushing first thing in the morning can be stressful and make some less willing to be as helpful. Next step could be bathroom and brush teeth. Follow this by getting dressed. (It can save a lot of time in the morning if clothes get picked out the night before.) Once dressed, it’s time for breakfast.
Nighttime routines can help bedtimes go more smoothly. When children know what the steps are and that the steps are followed consistently each evening it helps them to feel safe and secure. They are able to predict what is next. Try using these few steps each night to ease into bedtime:
- Pick up toys
- Have bedtime snack
- Get pajamas on
- Brush teeth
- Read bedtime stories
- Time to say good night
Just like the morning and nighttime routines are helpful for very young children, there are other routines that can be helpful for school-age children. School-age children need routines that are also appropriate to their age and the tasks that need to be completed. They can have routines for putting away their own laundry, helping to care for the family pet and getting their homework done or preparing their backpack for the next day of school.
How about a meal time routine? Depending on the age of your children, there could be some things that they can do to help with meal times, especially dinner time in the evenings as that is usually the best time for the whole family to get together. Be sure to choose age-appropriate tasks for children. Have children set the table. When dinner is ready, have everyone sit at the table together. This is a great time to see how everyone’s day went, share stories and just communicate with each other. Once dinner is finished, children can help clear the table. This makes clean-up time go much quicker, leaving time for other things in the evenings.
It’s pretty clear that routines are important for children of any age. But how are routines helpful for parents? Everyday life can be less hectic when routines are followed, which will lower stress levels. As children improve on doing the routines by themselves, they will need fewer instructions and constant reminders from the grown-ups in the home. And, you’ll be reassured as a parent that you are teaching your children to be capable and confident at any age.